Getting dressed Tuesday morning the two of them put their own pants on with minimal assistance, got up on their tippy-toes to close the bedroom door again and again, and for the first time Sophie opened it back up herself. Sophie also allowed me to put pigtails in her hair ("two ponies"). With minor distractions in the few minutes after when she likes to pull out all barrettes/bows/bands, she even left them in. They both walked out the door with me when it was time, stayed by me on the deck like I told them while I locked up, held my hands down the stairs, and climbed into the van and into their carseats themselves. All of those behaviors are relatively new for my big kids.
|These pictures were taken the next day at a 4th of July parade. It turns out if you follow the first rule of pigtails, which is the same as that of Fight Club, Sophie will leave them alone. Don't even say they're cute.|
|Michael's thing this summer is to wear his Detroit Tigers hat allllllll the time.|
That Tuesday morning we went to a weekly concert series for kids in a local downtown. We did this last summer with my then newly-walking toddlers loaded into and out of our big ol' stroller to get into and out of the event. Tuesday I decided to leave the stroller in the van.
Leaving the stroller behind feels like a big gamble with little twins. What if they both melt down or try to run off? I can't scoop them both up and cart them off to the car, at least not easily and without an obnoxious scene. Over the last few months the kids have done really well at drop-off and pick-up from the child care center and on short shopping trips without the stroller. They hold my hands in parking lots, stay right by my side as I secure their sibling in a carseat, and listen to me right away when they need reminders. The more I see they can do it it, the more I am willing to give it a go again next time. I've found it works best if I tell the kids what we'll be doing each step of the way and what's expected of them, and I load the diaper bag with lots of snacks. When all else fails, "Let's go to the car and eat crackers!" is my escape plan.
As we sat listening to the entertainment warm up that morning, a black storm cloud rolled in, and the band and crowd packed up and relocated to a local restaurant with a small theater space. Sophie and Michael rolled with it, groaning only for a moment when I had to stow their snacks in my bag for the journey, but even that protest was minimal. They ran, ran, ran holding my hands and giggling as the sprinkling started and waited patiently at the restaurant as the rain location got situated.
During that wait we we ran into one of Michael and Sophie's infant caregivers who is now a nanny for a local family. She had those girls with her for the concert. Ms. Kim recognized us right away, told her girls who Sophie and Michael were to her, that she used to be their teacher. It was funny that the kids she nannies for didn't totally get what her job was, that she's working when she's with them, that taking care of kids and babies is what she does. : ) Sophie and Michael both nodded shyly when I asked if they remembered Ms. Kim, and it seemed like they were trying to process it all. They spent a lot of time with her as babies, but who knows how those memories surface in their little toddler minds after over a year has passed. Later I noticed Sophie turning to look behind us at Ms. Kim whenever she spoke to her girls. I'm pretty sure, if nothing else, her voice struck something in Sophie's memory.
Watching Michael and Sophie during the music really showed me they are far from the babies they were in the infant room, Sophie especially. Michael didn't like the theater style seats that threatened to eat him up, so he sat on my lap. Sophie, on the other hand, looked like a preschooler, partly due to those pigtails, as she sat in the seat next to me the whole time, fully engaged in the show. The group sang oldies for the most part, cleverly incorporating puppets. They had a little Elmo sing the falsetto "laaaaaa-la-la-la-la-la" parts of "Crocodile Rock" and an owl for the "hooooo" in "I Saw Her Standing There." Michael loved the puppets, and Sophie participated in all the songs like "If You're Happy and You Know It" more excitedly than I've ever seen her do before.
Because the rain delayed the show a bit, it ran late. As it started encroaching on lunch time, Michael got a little antsy and complained that the music was too loud. He's been saying that a lot since he learned the phrase after the fire trucks scared him at the Memorial Day parade. What he's really saying, even if he doesn't know it yet, is that he's getting tired and/or hungry and therefore a bit grumpy. I tend to grumpily tell Mike to turn the TV down when it's getting close to my bedtime...it's hereditary. When the music became "ooo loud," I asked both kids if they were ready to hold my hands and go home in the van, and thankfully Sophie was also in agreement.
It wasn't until we were back home, lunch was done, and both kids were down for their naps that I remembered proudly that we did that all without the safety net of a stroller. It hadn't occured to me once after making the decision to leave it in the van. Perhaps next week the morning won't fill me with as much confidence, and we'll roll into the concert in City Mini style, but I'm hopeful that more and more successful big kid style outings are in our future.